Gene Damschroder, five others dead in plane crash

FREMONT Six people, including a former state legislator who was flying the plane, are dead in the cr
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Six people, including a former state legislator who was flying the plane, are dead in the crash of an airplane into a residential neighborhood on the west side of Fremont, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

The crash happened at about 1 p.m., shortly after the plane took off from Fremont Airport on Ohio 53. The plane crashed near Buckland and Barker avenues, a patrol dispatcher said.

According to the patrol, killed in the crash were:

-- Gene Damschroder Sr., 86, Fremont, who was flying the 1968 single-engine Cessna;

-- Bill Ansted, 62, of Lindsey

-- Allison Ansted, 23, of Lindsey

-- Daniel Gerwin, 31, of Gibsonburg

-- Emily Gerwin, 4, of Gibsonburg

-- Matt Clearman, 25, of Maumee

According to initial reports from the patrol, no buildings on the ground were hit and no one on the ground was affected.

The Lions Club of Fremont on Sunday had scheduled a fly-in breakfast, inviting nearby pilots to fly to the airport and display their planes.

After the event, according to The Associated Press, Damschroder offered visitors a chance to go up in planes for the cost of fuel, according to a poster at the airport. The joyrides were not related to the Lions Club event.

Damschroder was a Republican state representative from what was then Ohio's 85th District from 1973-83. He ran unsuccessfully for state representative in 1984 and for Sandusky County Commissioner in 1990. He was also the owner of Fremont Progress Airport, and his opposition to the Sandusky County Airport which was eventually built near Green Springs prompted him to consider running for the Statehouse again in 1994.

His son, Rex Damschroder, was a state representative from 1995 to 2003.

‘‘It was just kind of an accident. He was giving airplane rides. He always gives charity air rides,’’ said Rex Damschroder, who was not at the airport when the plane crashed.

‘‘Someone said they heard the engine sputter,’’ he said. ‘‘The next thing we knew they were down in a field in a residential area.’’

‘‘He’s been flying since World War II. He’s been flying for sixty years,’’ Rex Damschroder said. ‘‘He’s been instructing daily and flying daily since World War II. Flying was his life.’’

Gene Damschroder was a World War II pilot who bought his Cessna four decades ago. Federal records indicate he was a certified flight instructor and was licensed to fly both single- and multi-engine planes.

‘‘He’s flown enough; this is puzzling,’’ his son said.

Representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are en-route to the scene. The Fremont Police Department, Fremont Fire Department, Sandusky County Sheriff's Office, Balleville Fire Department, and Clyde Fire Department Communications Center are also at the scene.

Read Monday's Register for the full story